Written by Austen Tosone

When I started my blog in 2012, I never imagined that I’d still be working on it in 2020 or that I’d get to work with some amazing brands on paid collaborations. I got my first paid brand collaboration in 2015 while I was in college and in the last five years a lot has changed about how brands work with influencers.

If I had to narrow it down, I’d want brands to know these five things about working with creators that would make the experience better on both sides.

Determine if we’re a good fit for your brand

This one seems like it might be obvious, but I get approached by brands all the time to promote random products like strange weight-loss teas and pet toys that don’t have anything to do with the kind of content I create or my audience. Take a little bit of time to do some initial research and find creators that create similar content to content you’d like to hire them to make. If you’re a skincare company, try sourcing skincare bloggers through hashtags on Instagram or by searching on YouTube or Google to see who pops up. A quick glance at a creator’s Instagram bio or sections of their website should reveal what kind of content they typically focus on.  

Sustainability matters

It’s 2020 and brands that aren’t thinking about how to be more sustainable in working with creators will be left behind. I recently had a brand email me asking if I wanted to receive 25 shades of the same lipstick. I asked if I could choose two to test out and they said it was all or nothing, so I opted not to receive the package. I’m just one person and even though I could do a giveaway or pass along product to my friends it just seemed like such a waste of time and of packaging and I was disappointed I didn’t get to try the product for that reason. I am glad they at least asked me if I wanted to receive it though and wish more brands would do that before sending over a package filled with 10 items that I don’t need.

Email etiquette is everything

I’ve heard lots of brands complain about influencers not being on top of their emails, but what always shocks me is when a brand takes forever to reply to me when we’re working together on a paid project. If we’re working on a paid campaign together, I typically try to reply within 24 hours whenever possible and if I let it go to 48 hours, I get so anxious. I recently had a brand pretty much ghost me for weeks and we had only completed 50% of a paid project. I think even sending an email that says “I’m not sure about that let me check for you” or “We don’t have an update yet” is much better than silence. If something has changed with the campaign whether it’s good or bad, let me know as soon as possible so we can work something out.

Let’s get detailed

Provide a thorough brand brief for paid collaborations to avoid any confusion or miscommunication. What is the timeline for the campaign? What are the exact deliverables (one Instagram feed post, 3-5 Instagram stories, etc.)? Does the brand want any usage rights to the content I create? Will they require exclusivity, meaning I can’t work with competitors and how long would that last for? What is the turnaround for this project? Does it require a rush fee if it’s within a tight window? Is a re-shoot included in the rate or can I request to include a fee to re-shoot the campaign if something isn’t right? Be as thorough as you can so I know exactly what you’re looking for.

Tell us what the end game is

I always like to ask what KPI (key performance indicator) is most important to the brand but it’s always helpful to hear it from the brand up front. Are sales the most important outcome of the campaign or is the company trying to rebrand and build awareness around new messaging? Even those two examples are two very different things and I would approach each one differently in terms of imagery and caption.

Austen Tosone is a former editor and content creator based in New York City. She is currently the Beauty Content Director at Jumprope. You can keep up with her beauty, fashion, and career content weekly on her blog, Keep Calm and Chiffon, and expect daily lifestyle, fashion, and New York City-centric content on her Instagram.

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